OPEC might still agree an oil output-limiting deal later this year as the economic problems of its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia force Riyadh to cede more ground to arch-rival Iran. Sonia Legg reports.
Rarely has a meeting been this hyped - despite so few expectations. All the big OPEC countries were at the International Energy Forum, along with some non members. How to limit oil output the hot topic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAUDI ARABIAN ENERGY MINISTER, KHALID AL-FALIH, SAYING: "No, there is no offer, there is just consultation, trying to figure out where the market is going and get to a consensus view. We know that will happen in due course, and the mood is generally very positive." That was the response after one meeting. But then came a decision by Iran to reject an offer from Saudi Arabia to cut output if they did the same. According to some market watchers Tehran has even upped the stakes. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASPER LAWLER, ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: "What we thought was that it was going to target perhaps a certain number of million barrels per day, equivalent to what it used to produce, but obviously overall OPEC production has actually expanded in the years since so Iran is not only looking to produce what it once did, it's looking to produce as much as it once did relative to the likes of Saudi Arabia." Without a deal the glut is likely to remain. That may be good for consumers but oil producers are finding it increasingly hard to balance their budgets. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASPER LAWLER, ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: "I don't think the oil price will fall through the floor, but I think it does just keep us in the 40 - 50 dollars per barrel range and it makes 60 dollars per barrel that much less likely in the coming months." In 2014 prices were double what they are now. And this latest meeting was the second attempt this year to regain some of that lost ground. Some are now looking to the next one in November with thoughts of third time lucky.